Spencer dug itself a hole just 13 seconds into its contest against Northside on Thursday at Kinnett Stadium.
Northside quarterback Stephen Parker hit wide receiver Cordale Scott for a 70-yard touchdown pass on the very first play from scrimmage, and it was all downhill from there for the Greenwave. By midway through the second quarter, the score was 28-6, and it looked as if Spencer was headed for an 0-2 start to a promising young season.
But everything changed with one nifty play call with 9:25 left to play in the game.
After an inspired defensive effort had slowed the Patriots’ offensive attack, Spencer climbed to within a touchdown early in the fourth quarter. The Greenwave forced a fumble and recovered in Northside territory, but faced a Northside defense that was playing with some emotion itself.
The Patriots pushed Spencer back 13 yards to midfield, where it faced a thrid-and-23. It’s a poor situation for any offense, but the Spencer coaches had a play they had been waiting to use sitting in their back pocket.
Quarterback Khalil Thomas took the snap and handed it off to wide receiver Seth Jordan who moved from the right side on an end around. Jordan pitched the ball back to Jaleel Grimes, who had lined up in the slot on the other side. Jordan set a block to give Grimes enough time to look down the field, where wide receiver Ervin Davis had broken free.
Grimes tossed a perfect strike right into Davis’ hands, and Davis did the rest, trotting untouched into the end zone to tie the score.
“We’ve been working on that play the last couple of weeks,” coach Pierre Coffey said. “We were going to use it against Carver, but got down and just didn’t have an opportunity to use it. It was third and long tonight, so we just said, let’s go for it. It was executed perfectly.”
Grimes said he wasn’t worried about the pass when he saw Davis break free.
“I felt like if I overthrew him a little bit, he’d get there,” Grimes said. “He’s so fast, I just knew he’d get under it and score.”
Davis was just concentrating hard on hauling the ball in.
“I had to stay focused,” he said. “I was just telling myself not to drop the ball. It was a game-changer.”
That’s an understatement. The Spencer defense, playing with a lot of emotion and momentum, kept Northside off the scoreboard on its next drive, and Thomas hit wide receiver Cory Calhoun for an 80-yard touchdown on the third play of Spencer’s ensuing drive to go ahead for the first time.
“I’ve been praying for some adversity,” Coffey said. “That’s what makes a championship-level football team.”
Final score: Spencer 35, Northside 28
Key play: Spencer quarterback Khalil Thomas hit Cory Calhoun with an 80-yard touchdown pass with 6:40 remaining in the game to give Spencer its first lead of the night at 35-28.
Jaleel Grimes, Spencer, running back — Grimes rushed for 149 yards and a touchdown, received for 60 yards and a touchdown and passed for 50 yards and a touchdown. He did a little bit of everything and was one of the main reasons the Greenwave were able to come back from 22 points down.
The Spencer defense — After allowing 262 yards and 28 points in the first half, the Greenwave defense tightened up and led the way to the comeback. It gave up just 52 total yards and no points in the second half.
Khalil Thomas, Spencer, quarterback — After a shaky outing last week, Thomas put together a strong effort on Thursday night, completing 17 of 31 passes for 242 yards and three touchdowns.
Individual stats: Cory Calhoun, Spencer, wide receiver, caught four passes for 113 yards and a touchdown; Ervin Davis, Spencer, wide receiver, caught five passes for 78 yards and a touchdown; Seth Jordan, Spencer , wide receiver, caught four passes for 41 yards and a touchdown. Stephen Parker, Northside, quarterback, completed 13 of 19 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns; Cordale Scott, Northside, wide receiver, caught three passes for 106 yards and a touchdown; Quincy Brown, Northside, wide receiver, caught one pass for 61 yards and a touchdown.
Coach quote: “I’ve been praying for some adversity,” Spencer coach Pierre Coffey said. “That’s what makes a championship-level football team.”
Player quote: “We had to just stay poised,” Spencer quarterback Khalil Thomas said. “Do whatever it took and just keep moving forward.”
Spencer 35, Northside 28
Thursday at Kinnett Stadium
N — Cordale Scott 70 pass from Stephen Parker (Nathan Robertson kick); 11:47
S — Jaleel Grimes 10 run (kick blocked); 3:34
N — Quincy Brown 61 pass from Parker (Robertson kick); 2:48
N — David Apiag 5 run (Robertson kick); 9:03
N — Dayshun Johnson 2 run (Robertson kick); 3:10
S — Grimes 44 pass from Khalil Thomas (Jalen Taylor kick); 2:05
S — Seth Jordan 15 pass from Thomas (Taylor kick); 11:53
S — Ervin Davis 50 pass from Grimes (Taylor kick); 9:25
S — Cory Calhoun 80 pass from Thomas (Taylor kick); 6:40
Records: Spencer 1-1, 0-0; Northside 1-1, 0-0. Next: Spencer, Friday vs. Kendrick; Northside, Friday vs. Jordan.